HHS Creates Task Force to Eliminate Paperwork
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced Friday the creation of a task force that will "streamline the paperwork" that is "driving away private insurers" participating in the Medicare+Choice program, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/8). The effort is part of an HHS department-wide initiative that will "reduce regulatory burdens in health care and respond faster to the concerns of health care providers, state and local governments and individual Americans who are affected by HHS rules." Thompson said, "Health care providers have been telling HCFA for years that many of our regulations are overly burdensome ... This effort is about listening better to the people we serve and working more effectively with the organizations that are our partners" (HHS release, 6/8). As part of a White House effort to increase health plan participation in the Medicare+Choice program, the task force will begin with the "historically burdensome" regulations that govern the program. "At the very time when we are trying to attract more managed care plans to offer their services to Medicare beneficiaries, do we really need 854 pages of regulations standing in the middle of the front door to the program? ... We need to examine our real needs and be sure we're not imposing unnecessary burdens on our health care providers," Thompson said, adding, "Over-regulation undermines quality of care and health care delivery by using scarce resources unproductively" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/8). Thompson "pledged to work on a bipartisan basis with members of Congress" including House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), as well as Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.). HHS has "11 major operating divisions managing more than 300 programs" and "issues 200 regulatory actions each year" (HHS release, 6/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.